Wen we left Asheville on June 15, we had a relatively short list of things to do when we arrived in Cuenca: get the kids into school, find a place to live and get visas. Every morning we would wake up with a sense of purpose – knowing that we needed to work on those three things. As is so often the case here, things take a little longer than we think they will, but we are happy to report that we have successfully completed the things on our list!
School: Read the previous post about the kids’ school, Santana.
Housing: We did not have a list of requirements for housing, but we just started looking. After renting an apartment on the west side of town, we realized we’d rather be closer to the city center. We found a beautiful apartment in the city center in an old colonial building and even signed a lease.
But, then our angel paid us a visit (It’s times like these that we know we were meant to be here – kind of like when Dan and Sarah walked into our lives and provided everything we needed to be able to leave our house, our dog, and our business in good hands!) Wayne was seeking shelter from the rain and popped into a little café. As he was talking about our year here, another gringa, Maureen, entered the conversation saying she was leaving Cuenca for a year and was looking for renters to watch her stuff and live in her house.
The rest is history as they say. We now are enjoying living in Maureen’s furnished house which is ½ the size of our Asheville home – and paying only $400 a month. It is in a little gated community with about 15 other townhomes. The kids have Ecuadorian neighbors their age (or close enough) to play with and a safe street on which to ride bikes and scooters and play soccer. We’ve bought a piano, a mattress and a couch, but otherwise just use what Maureen left us. It is in a great location, close to the city. We can walk to almost everything or take a $.25 bus ride if we are feeling lazy or splurge on a $1.50 to $3 taxi to most places in the city.
Visas: A lot more complicated and difficult than when Wayne lived in South America 30 years ago when most countries didn’t even require them. We tried to figure out our visas before we left Asheville, but to no avail. We seemed to not fit into any of the visa options – we were staying more than the 6 months allowed for tourists, but we did not want to become residents for just a year (too much money and paperwork and there are restrictions on traveling outside the country!). After a couple of visits to the appropriate government agency, they were kind enough to offer us a year visa that we had never seen on the web or heard of from any of the lawyers with whom we spoke. We still had to translate and notarize a bundle of documents (that took some time and was a little stressful) but, we turned all the documents in, they accepted them and, fingers crossed, we should be picking up our visa next week.
Now Wayne and I are finding our way and figuring out what to do with our days (more about that in another post) – but we are happy to be entering Phase II!